IBM Wants Watson to Teach Robots Some Social Skills

IBM is using some of the artificial-intelligence techniques that emerged from its Watson project to teach robots to better understand and mimic human communication. During a keynote speech at a conference held in San Jose, California, this week, Robert High, chief technology officer of Watson at IBM, demonstrated some of the techniques his team is working on using a small humanoid robot. The robot, a Nao model from the company Alderbaran, spoke with realistic intonation and made appropriate hand gestures during a conversation with High. It even exhibited a little impatience and sarcasm, miming looking at its watch, for example, when asking High to hurry up with his talk. Speaking with MIT Technology Review after the demo, High admitted that this interaction was prerecorded, because the system doesn’t always work…


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